Religion in School?


It’s almost time for students (and teachers) to go back to school. But before they do in Texas, state officials have some work to do. Texas state officials take on the task of deciding on the social studies curriculum for all the schools in the state. The question at hand: Is religion and its role in the founding of the nation sufficiently covered in the current curriculum?

The Texas Board of Education hired six experts to help them resolve this issue. Three of those six experts would like to see more of the religious foundation of the nation included in the state curriculum for US History. One of those experts is Peter Marshall, president of Peter Marshall Ministries. His review included this statement:

“Our children need to know the truth about how our country got started. You never read about how the founding fathers were nearly all Christian believers and that it is their biblical world view that shaped the way they thought and achieved what they did.”

Another expert on the panel, David Barton, president of Wall Builders, also makes the argument that understanding the founders and the underpinnings of the Constitution is essential for students of American history:

“Students must also understand the framers’ very explicit (and very frequent) definition of inalienable rights as being those rights given by God.”

He also said that it’s important for the curriculum to “reflect the fact that the U.S. Constitution was written with God in mind.”

There are other experts who could not disagree more. Lybeth Hodges, a history professor at the Texas Woman’s University in Houston, has a very different view of the matter:

“I go to church every Sunday and I still don’t want religion being taught to my children in a classroom by someone else and that’s what it seems to be they are suggesting.”

The debate is intense and ongoing. It will be no easy job for the Texas Board of Education to arrive at a decision if they are looking for any middle ground. On a personal note, I find the whole thing very interesting because I taught social studies for seven years in the public school system in Los Angeles, California. Quite honestly, I don’t know how anyone can teach on the foundations of this nation without discussing the overt and plentiful references to religion made by the founders. I don’t believe that teaching the motives and the influences of the founders is any more religious instruction than teaching the motives of American desire for expansion or entry into World War II. It’s just history.

Yet, it bucks the trend of ignoring anything that may sound remotely religious in the American public school classroom. Interestingly, Russia has recently made changes to their history curriculum as well. But the trend in Russia is to include more discussion on the religious aspects of the nation, not to separate it. Here’s the poignant commentary:

“There is something to be said for students learning more about the religious heritage of their country. If the Russians are erring on one side of that objective, Americans may be erring on the other.”

What do you think? How important is it to you that your children understand the religious values and foundation of the founders of this country?

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